Baby Box by Laura McGrady has been selected by the King’s Head Theatre to have its world premiere as part of their Who Runs The World? feminist season this May. This heart-warming and darkly humorous new play focusses around endometriosis, a medical condition affecting 1 of 10 women in the world.
Directed by King’s Head Junior Associate Helena Jackson and starring Laura McGrady and Sarah Cullum, Baby Box is a searingly relevant look at female sexual pleasure and pain.
We spoke to Laura to find out more.
Baby Box is coming to The King’s Head Theatre, what can you tell us about it?
Baby Box is the story of two sisters, Chloe and Jamie. We are introduced to the pair on a Christmas morning when they are just teenagers and follow them throughout the play into adulthood. We see them face love, loss, sex and endometriosis. It’s a rollercoaster – you’ll love it!
How does it feel having the play selected to run as part of the Who Runs The World feminist season?
I’m thrilled! Firstly, I’m delighted to be making my professional debut as a writer at The Kings Head – a theatre with such an exciting and rich history, but also about to make huge steps forward in their journey as a venue. It’s a very exciting time all round! Secondly, I am really looking forward to sharing this season with so many fantastic female driven pieces. The Kings Head are really setting a great example and leading the way in getting women’s voices heard, I can’t wait to be a part of that.
What’s the most difficult aspect of the subject to get across on stage?
I feel really privileged to have the chance to shed some light on endometriosis. 1 in 10 women suffer from this disease, so it was really important to me that I got everything just right. I actually – perhaps surprisingly – loved writing about the pain experienced from this disease. It’s an aspect of endometriosis that is quite difficult to get across in life, anyway, so I enjoyed discovering a theatrical way of expressing this sort of pain that would do justice to the experience whilst remaining watchable for an audience – and I just know actress Sarah Cullum will do a fantastic job portraying it.
Why is it such an important subject to see discussed in this form?
It took many years of battling for me to get my diagnosis of endometriosis and adenomyosis, a long journey which I can map out in two ways; trips to the doctors or trips to the theatre. Theatre has always been a huge part of my life and I have always made time for it. Two plays were enormously significant in my journey to diagnosis, Skin a Cat by Isley Lynn and Lucy Light by Sarah Milton (who is headlining the WRTW season at The Kings Head with her incredible play Tumble Tuck). But I felt like there was one more play I still needed to see – and that play was Baby Box. Toni Morrison said “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must be the one to write it.” This is the play I needed to see, so I wrote it. Who knows, maybe there is someone else right now who needs to see it like I did.
Who in particular do you think the play will speak most to?
Of course, it will speak to women who know they suffer from endometriosis, or those who don’t yet know. But really the play is about the relationship between Chloe and Jamie. Anyone with a sibling will know this relationship. Anyone who has ever loved anyone unconditionally will connect with this play. It isn’t about suffering or about disease. It’s about family. It’s heart-warming and heart-breaking all at the same time, so the only requirement to enjoy this play is having a heart.
Tell us about Sleepless Theatre Company and what you’re trying to achieve
Sleepless was set up a couple of years ago to explore female voices that were somehow hidden from society – whether through disability, chronic pain, neurodiversities or any other reasons. We exist to make theatre that’s accessible to all audiences, all actors, all creatives, and to try and provide a welcoming experience to everyone that encounters us. Society has provided us with a language where being a ‘strong woman’ and fitting in with the ‘norm’ is apparently an ultimate goal – which from our perspective is totally bollocks. Women can be anything – strong, weak, fragile, sexy, smelly, loud, have vaginas, not have vaginas, use mobility vehicles, be skinny, be plus-size; you name it, women have done it.
We’re so excited to be producing Baby Box – to be able to look at issues like lesbianism, chronic pain and endometriosis, yes, but more importantly, to follow the story of two women who manage to love each other whatever happens around them. With the #MeToo movement and the realization that actually it’s pretty shitty being a woman (who knew), sometimes it’s lovely being able to leave a theatre feeling all warm and rosy with hope – knowing that, as long as women keep supporting and fighting for each other, we’ve got a lot more that we can change about this world.
Baby Box is at the King’s Head Theatre as part of Who Runs The World? 1st – 6th May 2018.